INDIANAPOLIS (26 July 2013) – Despite getting off to a strong start to Round 8 of the 2013 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series championship, Action Express Racing didn’t reach the goals the team had been targeting in Friday’s Brickyard Grand Prix held at the fabled Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The 2.534-mile circuit set in the historic Indianapolis oval featured some competitive racing among a field of 16 Daytona Prototypes which marked the largest field since the season opening Rolex 24 event at Daytona International Speedway. Beyond the appeal of racing at the Speedway that motivated the added interest, the large field was also looking for success in the North American Endurance Championship presented by VISITFLORIDA.com.
Christian Fittipaldi started the three-hour endurance event from fourth on the grid in the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP and made his way into third by the end of the first lap.
Fittipaldi managed to bring the car back to the garage where the Action Express crew went to work – quickly making repairs and returning the car to the track in order to pick up maximum championship points.
Despite the scope of work needed to get the car sorted, the repairs took just 16 minutes, and the No. 5 returned seven laps down with Fittipaldi remaining behind the wheel. During a full course caution on Lap 28, shrewd strategy from Action Express Racing gained the No. 5 car one lap back on the leaders as Fittipaldi waited to pit until the leaders had made their own stops for fuel, tires, and driver changes. Despite running strong laps behind the wheel of the No. 5 machine, the lost track position proved too much to make up in the three-hour race and Barbosa completed the event 14th.
The sister No. 9 Corvette DP of Burt and Brian Frisselle opened the race from the 10th position with Burt at the controls as he moved up into the top-five and eventually the lead before making the team’s first pit stop. Following a driver change under caution with about two-hours remaining in the race, Brian returned to the track sixth in line and also ran a strong stint – taking the lead for three laps.
The brothers’ progress would sadly come to a halt late in the race when the lower rear wishbone mount broke on the No. 9 Action Express Racing Corvette DP. The team quickly went to work on the car in an attempt to return Brian to the track, but there was not enough time left in the race for the team to make the necessary repairs and the group had to accept the 16th place finish at the finish.
"First, I would like to congratulate Chip Ganassi and his team on their win in the North American Endurance Championship,” said Team Manager Gary Nelson. “We came here as the point leader and held on to the championship lead all the way to the last 15 minutes of the race. We certainly had our problems, but it seemed that they were having theirs as well. Unfortunately, for us, the Ganassi team was able to find a way to power themselves back to the front at the end. It looked like both the No. 5 and the No. 9 were headed for top-five finishes, but the suspension broke on both of them. It was a very rough race with a lot of contact, we are not sure if contact contributed to the suspension failure on the No. 5 car but we were still able to keep the No. 9 car in contention until a few laps after a hard hit in the left side from the No. 02 put the No. 9 behind the wall with a damaged left rear suspension, so that is disappointing. We have to go back and work harder to go faster, but we also have to go back and make sure the parts don't break on our cars. We just need to improve our straight line speed and build some stronger parts."
Action Express Racing will next travel to Road America in two weeks for Round 9 of the Rolex Series championship August 8-10.
DRIVER QUOTEBOARD Christian Fittipaldi, No. 5 Corvette DP: "Definitely not the day we wanted. Unfortunately we had a small mechanical problem with the left-rear suspension and that cost us six laps. So we changed it and went to the end to try and score some points in the championship. It was definitely not what we were looking for. We certainly had a very competitive car and a car to fight for the victory. But now we have to turn the page and go on to the next one."
Joao Barbosa, No. 5 Corvette DP: “It's just a tremendous effort, unfortunately it was a really bad weekend for both Action Express cars. We never had a perfect car for the race, but the team did a great job in changing the upper wishbone in the rear of our car and we still made some valuable points. Some of the other cars had problems as well so we were able to get some minimal points, which is always important at the end of the year. We were really looking forward to this event, we came here as the point leader in the last event for the 2013 North American Endurance Championship and a win at Indy is something all racers would like to get. Unfortunately, we came away without either.”
Burt Frisselle, No. 9 Corvette DP: "We have one of the best teams in the paddock, there is no question about it. Every time we make a pit stop we go for it. So we have the best team you could ask for. It was a bummer of a day with both cars having a little mechanical issue, but I wouldn’t want to race with any other guys. It was really neat to get to do my 100th race here in Indy. But honestly, I am glad to be out of here this weekend. From practice to qualifying it just wasn't coming to us and it's a bummer for the No. 5 guys as well because they were working so hard to reposition themselves well in the championship. All I can say is we are on to Elkhart and we know we are going to give them a better fight than we gave them today."
Brian Frisselle, No. 9 Corvette DP: “I have to thank the guys. They work their butts off and that is the spirit of this team. It is a 'no-quit' mentality and I greatly appreciate it even though we didn't get to make it back out I could see them hustling and trying. I was ready to go, but this is racing and sometimes it just doesn't go your way. We will rebound, we have a very strong team. We will try to learn from this and come back strong.”
Action Express Racing